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Tycho / on Fri, Jun 26 2015 at 9:19 am

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The Customer

Batman: Arkham Knight is overwhelming.

There have been multiple occasions now, within a relatively short period of time, where I have felt compelled by some omnipresent force to punch the arm of my compatriot and say something along the lines of “God Damn” or “Jesus Is Lord.”  The game doesn’t really deal with themes of divinity, those are just the phrases that leap to the fore.  There’s too many thoughtful touches, too many moments that don’t need to be there and nobody else would do.  That they managed to keep one of these secrets secret as long as they did is amazing, given today’s Internet Hive Mind Spoiler Engine.  It’s not the secret you’re thinking of, either.  It’s a completely different secret you didn’t even know was a secret.

I dunno; we really like the Batmobile.  Rocksteady is clearly in love with the car.  They want you to drive this fucking car when you aren’t even in it.  They want you to drive the car to yourself so you can get inside and drive somewhere else.  Most people talking about how bad the car is have played it way more than us, so who knows.  It’s slippery for real, especially in Battle Mode, which is basically another game altogether‚Ķ?  And if you like what Batman is, and how Batman is - something Rocksteady has mastered beyond mastery, they can put no more points in - then I think I understand what they mean.

There are several legitimate games inside this game; it’s like one of those Robotech missiles that splits and then even more missiles come out.  The combat is legendary, obviously.  Everybody is trying to leverage that potent stock in their own titles, with varying levels of attenuation from the source.  But everything they’re asking me to do here is credible.  These puzzles would be impressive, definitional puzzles in a puzzle game.  Then they have you doing puzzles with you and the car, platforming, whatever the fuck.

You can talk about Batman: Arkham Knight and think you’re talking about one thing, and be talking about another.  For example, the same three words also refer to an incredibly fucked, alternate universe version of the game I was just talking about before.  The precise nature of this fucking seems to depend on the machine, but it’s so bad that Warner “Bros” is ashamed to sell it.

I tend to have negative experiences with PC ports of big console releases in general; I think I just assumed, the PC being what it was, that I was an edge case.  Playing games on a computer occasionally has an undertone of midnight necromancy.  I am a sucker for the “nVidia Effects Video” which often drops before release, I get tantalized on cue, so I occasionally make choices I regret.  Like if they show a physics operable, like, tapestry or something.  I find myself nodding vigorously, so vigorously that I strike my head on the desk, and when I come to it has already been downloaded and I am through the tutorial.

Any time spent online with one’s eyes open reveals that this kind of thing happens all the time.  But the PC as a dumping ground for slipshod ports engineered to skim the cream off enthusiast gamers may be over: between the barbed lash of Lord Twitter and Steam Refunds, that powerful nexus, the deal has been altered pretty substantially.  The conversation we were supposed to have about Refunds was about short indie titles or narrative games, at any rate that’s the one news sites told us was important, but Batman: Arkham Knight is much more instructive and frankly much more likely than the punitive refund scenario.

It was weird that you had no recourse before.  Let me emphasize that a second time: it was weird that they could sell whatever they wanted and you had to keep it.  And we’re only beginning to see the effects.


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